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Ethics chapter 8
Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 9

 

 

The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.

Chapter 8

What is unmistakable in looking at personal ethics and morality is that to be human is to live with paradox. I am both good and bad, I am strong and weak, to deal with and cope with pain and suffering I must embrace it, to overcome any aspect of my nature I must first accept it. 

Humankind does not easily embrace change, and the notion of paradox is an uncomfortable one. Yet the world in which we live is a world of constant change, it is only in the exploits of human kind where we see the attempt to surgically remove or protect ourselves from change. In these early days of a new century, shopping malls, massive stores and structures proliferate; we enter a carefully moulded world that is antiseptic in comparison to the natural world. Wind and weather are vagabonds tugging at hair and clothing, like beggars clamouring for attention that we do not want to give or recognise. 

The more we embrace this antiseptic world, spending minimal time in the great outdoors, perhaps dashing for the car door to avoid the rain and then tunnelling our way to work or the shopping mall, in a synthetic, air conditioned environment, paradoxically, the more discontent we become. Motorists do not drive along with a sense of well-being and contentment. Faces pinched and lowering, impatient of every other driver and hold up, the message is clear on every face, ‘get there, get there’, rush, rush, rush, yet never question what we are rushing to or even from. Shopping malls are not filled with content and happy people, consuming has not provided any answers to life. Having more, we are less. As I write, it is November and the stores are already filling with Christmas goods. In December the great Christmas madness will explode. Streets and stores crammed to overflowing with people buying everything in sight. The horrendous obligatory Christmas card lists will be dug out, amended, updated with yet more people we must send a card to. Cupboards and secret places will be filled with the latest games and ‘must haves’ for our children that we will despair of getting wrapped in all that has to be done in preparation for the great event. And will we stop and pause, even for a moment, to reflect that the greatest gift we can give our children is our time and attention, to be there for them? 

A good friend once gave me a poem at an age when I was too young to understand the import of such a gift, and yet it remains indelibly imprinted in my mind.

I could watch the sea forever,
It would feed me like the crab,
But man he is too clever,
what left have we from grab?

Grope, grope,
but never find,
That which comes with waiting,
Peace of mind.

Gordon Phillips

 How deliciously paradoxical, the more I might want peace of mind and the more I strive for it, the further away I am from it. 

The more I want to know and embrace this inner world of ethics and the further I travel into it, the more aware of the depths of my ignorance I become. I am constantly awed by how vast it is and how real it is. Day by day and year by year, it takes on a more vibrant reality that the physical world is a mere shadow of. The beauty in this inner world casts a shadow and a light over the incredible beauty of the natural world, though it is no less beautiful for that and becomes more appreciated and its beauty more striking as I travel and grow. 

We are never far away from this inner world, it is constantly here, its teaching and truths are no more than a quiet moment away, and yet it takes a life times travel and work to find it and to know it. I could not have known this world, as I know it now, when I was a teenager. I did not know then, in my impatience, that I had a journey to undertake, and even though I was making ethical choices all the time even to follow this inner road, its teachings remained elusive. Until I had made the journey, done the work of living, the ability to stop and know this inner life was beyond my reach. Then I was looking for nirvana, enlightenment, now I know that the point of the journey is to keep travelling. There is no destination, or there are a million destinations, with ever-new ones appearing. 

Such is the nature of paradox, such is what we live with constantly and resisting or not understanding and embracing paradox is to reduce life, to make it less and dull and empty.

© 2000 Keith Lindsay-Cameron. All rights reserved.